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According to Leeanne Pront, students completing their first attempts at a medication round might be taken back both by how much there is to learn, and how straightforward their supervisor can make the process look. 

“It’s such a complex activity for someone doing it the first time,” Ms Pront, who is the Placement Education Coordinator at Flinders University’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences, says.

“You watch someone doing it five years down the track, it’s almost second nature and they’re doing what appears to be almost automated… They’re thinking the whole way through, but it doesn’t appear that way.”

While students and early career nurses and midwives might find themselves longing to match their more experienced counterparts, Ms Pront says that taking the time to form good habits is key to ensuring success and safety.

“If we don’t protect them whilst they’re forming that pattern of behaviour, then we eliminate the chance of putting those really safe processes in place early.”

Despite the clinical environment being dynamic and forever-changing,” and that some things the students learn will shift depending on where they work, Ms Pront says there are some practices that will help students acclimatise to the promoting safe medical round habits.

  • Patience is more important than speed while learning: “Many students will find that they get frustrated because they feel like they’re very slow… They just need to take a breath and be systematic in their approach to the complete process of administration of medication to a patient, or even a medication round, and take their time, be accurate and ask questions: Safety is their priority.”
  • Build a rapport with your patients: “Developing a relationship and a rapport with the patient that enables the patient to question what the medication is or enable the student to explore the patient’s understanding of that medication is really important… It empowers both the student and the patient to have a voice.”
  • Unsure? Keep notes and ask questions of those around you: “Always keep your own running diary of what you want to follow up, but also ask lots of questions… [so you’re] using the people that you’re engaging with through the medication round but also using the evidence from the textbooks and the MIMS to inform your practice.
  • Understand that side-effects happen and follow up: “If you understand what the potential side-effects are going to be for that medication, you’re already alert to what you’re looking for … understanding what to look for makes the student more acute at that follow-up evaluation and assessment half an hour [after the round].”
  • Form a plan with your supervisor for interruptions: Ms Pront says that the supervising RN should also ensure that they have dedicated time to monitor their student, and minimise or divert interruptions during the medication round.

“Having a plan, alerts or a safety net so that the student is allowed to focus on that complete chain of activities involved in administration of a medication without interruption, promotes safe administration of medications,” she says.